Terminal Pleistocene Volcanic Eruptions at Zuni Salt Lake, West-Central New Mexico, USA

Author(s): Jill Onken; Steven Forman

Year: 2016


2016 Southwest Symposium Poster.

Abstract: Zuni Salt Lake, a maar in the Red Hill–Quemado volcanic field in New Mexico, holds great significance in the oral traditions of a handful of tribes including the Zuni and Hopi. We redefined the age of volcanic eruptions at Zuni Salt Lake using radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence dating. Four radiocarbon ages on wood charcoal indicate two main eruptive phases: a violent strombolian eruption at ~13.3 ka and a later, predominantly phreatomagmatic eruptive phase ~11.8 ka. Five less precise luminescence ages support this eruption chronology. These terminal Pleistocene ages for the Zuni Salt Lake eruptions are younger and substantially more precise than previous argon method ages of ~86–114 ka and indicate that a previous radiocarbon age on aquatic carbonates was anomalously old because of hardwater effects. The millennium or more separating the two eruptive phases suggests closely spaced, monogenetic events at Zuni Salt Lake. The eruptions significantly modified the landscape immediately surrounding the vent, including topographic and vegetation changes and disruption of drainages. The revised, terminal-Pleistocene age for the Zuni Salt Lake eruptions indicates that these volcanic events are recent enough that they were likely witnessed by Paleoindian Clovis (~13.4–12.7 ka) and Folsom-Midland (~12.8–11.7 ka) groups inhabiting the region and probably had a lasting effect on their ideology. It also suggests that other Pleistocene volcanics in both the Red Hill–Quemado field and other Jemez Lineament fields might be substantially younger than presently suggested by argon dating.

Cite this Record

Terminal Pleistocene Volcanic Eruptions at Zuni Salt Lake, West-Central New Mexico, USA. Jill Onken, Steven Forman. Presented at 2016 Southwest Symposium, Tucson, Arizona. 2016 ( tDAR id: 401126) ; doi:10.6067/XCV81Z460H

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

File Information

  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
Onken_SWSym2016_Poster_600dpi.pdf 10.09mb Jan 17, 2016 6:06:03 PM Public